CDC Researchers Find Link Between Binge-Drinking And Opioid Misuse

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Binge drinkers are twice as likely to misuse opioids compared to non-drinkers, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Looking at data from 2012 to 2014, researchers found alcohol was involved in 1 in 5 deaths involving prescription opioids. They also found more than 2 million Americans who misused prescription opioids in recent years also identified as binge drinkers.

In a statement, CDC Director Robert Redfield said combining alcohol and opioids can significantly increase the risk of overdose and death.

These research findings don’t surprise Rosecrance Central Illinois’ Executive Director Chris Gleason.

In his experience working in addiction treatment for more than 25 years, he’s found that people who binge-drink are likely to take more risks with other substances.

Gleason said even though it’s been long-known that combining alcohol with other drugs can be deadly, many people aren’t aware of the serious risks.

“I think if (more people) can get educated now, they won’t end down the road on opiates,” Gleason said. “And that’s the hard part. When they binge-drink and misuse opiates, it’s not a long time until they might just exclusively use opiates.”

Gleason said it’s important to note that far more people overdose on opioid derivatives like heroin and fentanyl than prescription opioids, which were the focus of the CDC study.

He said it’s also important to keep children and teens away from alcohol, because the longer alcohol consumption is delayed, the less likely it is to turn into an addiction later in life.

For people who are seeking help for an addiction, Gleason recommends searching the federal SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.

The Illinois Helpline for opioids and other substances is 833-2-FIND-HELP, or visit

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

Story source: WILL